What's Your Secret Shopper Score?

Many retailers use a program called "secret shopper" in which an unidentified customer goes through the store and records his or her experiences across  a number of different interactions.  The staff does not know that the shopper is a "plant" - placed in the store by the owners to determine a real customer experience. While the secret shopper process can be expensive, you can accomplish much the same results by paying attention to the various touch points in your firm - and assessing the client' 'experiences yourself.

To begin, lIsten to how your receptionist answers the phone. All too often we call in through the 'back door" in order to check voice messages. But now and then just try calling your office's main number and see how  the receptionist' answers the phone.  You can even have a few friends call in - ask for directions, or ask a simple question,. Then they can let you know what transpires during their call.  

Along with that first impression made during an initial call to your firm, what other situations might impact your client or others? Is your web site current and easy to navigate?  A frequent  comment is that visitors cannot find the invitation to an upcoming event on a firm's website. Recognizing this, is someone charged with visiting your site weekly/monthly to check out updates or other changes? This may be left to the marketing professionals, but sometimes it is helpful to have another pair of  eyes to provide a fresh perspective.

Are your newsletters well written, timely, and relevant? Do you send the right amount of information - at the right time - without being intrusive? To be sure of the answers to these types of questions, ask a few of your trusted clients and colleagues what they observe when they receive information, or seek information, from your firm.

Lastly, what happens when someone actually visits the office? Are they greeted warmly? Is the lobby welcoming and comfortable? Or is it noisy and congested with traffic? Are refreshments (coffee and water?) quickly offered if someone has to wait a few minutes? When did you last sit down in your own lobby to see it thru the eyes of your visitors?  

No matter which of these tasks you decide are your top priority, the pattern is clear: you need to be very sure of the clients' experience with your firm. It is important for you to keep in mind that the clients' experiences goes beyond meeting with their relationship partner. There are, in fact, many other interactions with your firm that impact the client - and each one should be a positive reinforcement of your firm's philosophy regarding world class service. But is it? How do you measure up? 

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Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, will lead a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

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